10 Memorable Things to Do in Phoenix Park for Your Dublin Staycation

10 Memorable Things to Do in Phoenix Park for Your Dublin Staycation
7 min read
25 August 2023

Phoenix Park, nestled in the bustling heart of Dublin, is one of the most immense enclosed landscapes in any European city. It’s not just an ordinary urban park you can easily explore in a single visit — the majestic 1750-acre Phoenix Park is over twice the size of Central Park in New York City. 

This haven of tranquility within the city boasts its sprawling meadows and woodlands, protected wildlife, walks and cycle paths, and relaxing amenities like botanical gardens, cafes, Victorian tea rooms, and picnic grounds. Next to its impressive size and natural beauty, the park is also home to a wide array of unique attractions and heritage sites including the Áras an Uachtaráin (the home of Ireland’s President), 17th-century Ashton Castle, and Dublin Zoo. 

Whether you’re fascinated by Ireland’s nature and biodiversity or by the country’s rich history and culture, Phoenix Park has something to offer for everyone. The best part is you don’t have to spend a penny to visit many of its must-see attractions. 

Book a nearby hotel in Dublin and make it into a fun, memorable weekend family staycation. To get you started, we’ll list down 10 things to see and do in Phoenix Park Dublin.

1. Phoenix Park Visitor Centre

Phoenix Park map

If it’s your first time in Phoenix Park, this centre serves as a great starting point. Phoenix Park Visitor Centre is a one-stop place to get all the information about the park's history, wildlife, and activities. You can view audiovisuals and even get free guided tours of Ashtown Castle and Grangegorman. 

Aside from lively exhibits, the Phoenix Park visitor centre also features an award-winning cafe (Phoenix Cafe), a gift shop, a playground, and spacious grounds for enjoying picnics. 

2. Admire the Wellington Monument and other landmarks

Wellington

If Paris has an Eiffel Tower, Phoenix Park has the Wellington Monument, a 63m-high monumental granite obelisk. The iconic landmark towering over the park was completed in 1861 and was designed as a testimonial to Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. Today, it’s considered as the tallest obelisk in Europe

You’ll also come across the Papal Cross, a tall, white cross that commemorates the visit of Pope John Paul II to Phoenix Park in 1979. It's a significant landmark and offers panoramic views of the park.

Other historic landmarks found in Phoenix Park include the following:

  • Magazine Fort
  • The Phoenix Monument
  • Ashtown Castle and Demesne
  • Prehistoric Burial Chamber
  • War Memorial Gardens

3. Meet Dublin Zoo’s majestic animals

Dublin Zoo

Located within Phoenix Park, Dublin Zoo is a popular family-friendly attraction. Established in 1831, this 28-hectare zoo is the oldest in Europe. It's home to 100 different species (over 400 animals) across the zoo’s eight different habitats, which include an African Savannah and an Asian jungle. 

Aside from seeing animals up close, Dublin Zoo also offers interactive educational tours for all ages. There are restaurants, cafes, and even a train to get you around. 

4. Visit the house of the president: Áras an Uachtaráin

Located on Chesterfield Avenue is Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the President of Ireland. It’s open to the public through guided tours on Saturdays. Here, you can visit the house and gardens, which offer a glimpse into the country’s political history and beautiful architecture.

5. Take the Farmleigh House and Gardens guided tour

Visit the opulent Farmleigh House, the Irish government’s official guesthouse. Through the 30-minute guided tour, you can see the Georgian-Victorian house’s ground floor, including the conservatory and library. 

While the interiors are phenomenal, the real highlight of the 32-hectare estate is the garden. This is where regular shows are held, and where you’ll find a lovely restaurant and cafe. Don’t forget to visit the 37m clock tower and witness amazing panoramic views from the top. 

6. Hire a bike and explore the park

bike

Given that the park is so vast, it makes sense to rent a bike to get around and make the most out of your stay. Bike rentals are located at the main entrance of Phoenix Park, with prices starting at just €6. Afterward, feel free to pedal around the serene meadows, explore the park’s extensive network of paths, and enjoy the lush surroundings. 

7. Wildlife watching

fallow deer

Phoenix Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including deer, foxes, numerous bird species, and other critters. Birdwatching and deer spotting are popular activities here.

Hoping to catch a glimpse of its famous wild fallow deer? Fifteen Acres, the southern part of the park, is a must-visit. You’re likely to spot them here, especially if you visit in the early morning. Just remember NOT to pet or feed them. 

8. Sporting activities

The park has sports facilities including tennis courts, cricket grounds, and a polo field. You can engage in various outdoor activities or even catch a game or match. 

If you’re a sports fanatic, you’ll notice that the Fifteen Acres has football and hurling pitches. These are used by the local league teams at weekends — something you can watch with your family. 

9. Have a picnic and unwind

picnic

Want to have a picnic with your family and friends? Or drink tea while reading a book? Perhaps sniff the vibrant flowers or watch the birds as you take a stroll? Dubliners love running, walking, cycling, or playing sports on a fine day. But if you prefer to take it slow and do relaxing activities, Phoenix Park offers numerous green spaces that are perfect for unwinding. These include: 

  • Fifteen Acres
  • People’s Flower Gardens
  • Victorian Tearooms
  • Papal Cross area
  • Wellington Monument grounds
  • Furry Glen
  • Phoenix Monument area
  • The Bandstand

You’ll find picnic tables and benches throughout the park, usually under the trees or beside walking paths. Just keep in mind that BBQ and cooking aren’t allowed in the park. 

10. Check Phoenix Park’s calendar of events

Phoenix Park hosts various events and festivals throughout the year. Check out their website for their extensive program of cultural events, including food fairs, concerts, cultural exhibitions, and even outdoor theatre performances.

Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a travel and lifestyle writer. Aside from taking vibrant street photos, you can find her writing articles about travel, food, and lifestyle. To learn more about hotels and travel blogs, you may visit Ashling Hotel Dublin.

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